As part of the institutional response to COVID-19, the University is committed to supporting employees upon their return to work on campus, including those who are medically vulnerable and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Employees who fall into one or more of the high risk categories as listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and who wish to seek a temporary alternative work arrangement beyond the COVID-19 workplace measures taken by their respective departments or units should follow the guidelines as outlined below.
Individuals with disabilities who are currently unable to perform the essential functions of their job and are seeking a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact their local human resources representative and work with UI Faculty & Staff Disability Services in lieu of using this process.
UI Healthcare has separate guidelines for healthcare employees based upon the status of “critical workers”. UI Healthcare employees should contact the Leave & Disability Administration (LDA) office to request a temporary alternative work arrangement.
Populations with Vulnerabilities
Employee populations with vulnerabilities include:
- Employees (including faculty, staff, graduate assistants, postdoctoral scholars, fellows, or student employees) who are medically vulnerable and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as identified [or defined] by the CDC.
Employees who fall into one or more of these populations, or who live with an individual who falls into one or more of the populations, may utilize the following process if they wish to request a temporary alternative work arrangement upon their return to campus.
Process for Temporary Alternative Work Arrangement Requests
The process for temporary alternative work arrangements is a case-by-case analysis based on performance of the essential work functions. For example, teaching is an essential work function for most faculty members and teaching on campus is an essential work function for classes designated for “face-to-face” instruction. Temporary alternative work arrangements for those classes will focus on options facilitating the faculty member’s ability to teach face-to-face.
- Initial Request - Employees who wish to request a temporary alternative work arrangement or have concerns about their ability to perform their work safely because of the impact of COVID-19 should contact their local human resources representative to begin the process. Medical documentation Employees will be required to submit medical documentation to certify the underlying serious health condition(s). Medical documentation will be considered confidential and kept in a file separate from the employee’s personnel file and will only be accessible to human resources personnel. Supervisors will be provided with limited information necessary to effectively implement a temporary alternative work arrangement.
Interim Alternative Work Arrangement - When possible and if easily implemented, departments should work with their local human resources representative to implement an interim alternative work arrangement while medical information is being obtained and reviewed. For example, the employee could be allowed to work remotely as a temporary measure while the final decision is pending.
If an interim alternative work arrangement is not available or possible during this step, the employee may be able to take available and applicable paid or unpaid leave.
- Temporary Alternative Work Arrangement Selection - After receiving sufficient medical information, the local human resources representative and supervisor will determine if a temporary alternative work arrangement is available and, if so, implement it promptly, taking care to maintain confidentiality of the employee’s medical information.
Best Practices for Supervisors
Supervisors (including anyone who supervises a faculty member, staff member, graduate assistant, postdoctoral scholar, fellow, or student employee) who become aware of an employee’s possible need for a temporary alternative work arrangement related to COVID-19, or become aware of an employee’s concern about returning to campus because of a vulnerability as defined by the CDC, should refer the employee to their local human resources representative.
Supervisors should not ask medical-related questions or inquire about the employee’s health, or the health of the employee’s family member(s). Examples of inquiries supervisors cannot make include:
- Details regarding treatment or status
- Name of treating healthcare provider or facility
- Prognosis of medical condition
Supervisors may ask limited job-related questions such as:
- Can you describe the job tasks or duties you are concerned about performing?
- Are you aware of any alternatives or job supports that may assist you?
- How can we help you today?
Types of Temporary Alternative Work Arrangements
The following list does not include all possibilities for temporary alternative work arrangements for vulnerable populations, but examples include:
- Remote work, as available.
- Temporary alternative work location.
- Modified work schedule such as a change to start time or flexible work arrangement to decrease contact with others.
- Changing the physical layout of the workspace or classroom to create physical distancing or barriers.
- Usage of additional or enhanced protective equipment such as gowns, masks, face shields, gloves, or other gear beyond what may be provided in the ordinary course.
- Temporarily removing “marginal” job duties that are less critical or incidental.
- Remote/virtual teaching for a class designated as eligible for this format.
- Providing assistive technology.
- Temporary unpaid leave of absence.
- Other alternatives as suggested by the employee or the employee’s treating healthcare provider.